You probably have never considered the importance of the type of toys that are most suitable for your child’s age. Most people don’t really think twice before buying a toy for their child because it doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, this subject should be emphasized because what they play with may or may not have a huge impact on their future. Here is the ultimate guide for finding the best toys and activities for your children, depending on their age.
1. Make sure it is designed for their age and it matches their abilities
Make sure the age suitability is mentioned on the packaging of the toy. If a toy is not matched with a child’s age, it is wrong to let them play with it as it could be inappropriate or dangerous. For example, children under 3 years old can easily put small pieces in their mouth and it can cause them to choke. Another example is the type of toys with long strings- children love to hang long strings around their neck and wrap it around their body so it is really important to avoid these type of toys or to at least supervise them while they are playing. Also be careful with toys with plastic bags the size of their head, or toys with sharp edges. These toys should be not given to children without the supervision of an adult.
2. Find the type of toys that is encouraging to learn about themselves
Toys can be used as a kind of tool that enables children to discover new things about themselves as they are growing up. Children spend every single day with their toys, it is like an addiction for them! Once you take them into a toy shop and they throw a tantrum because you wont allow them to buy something, that is when you know that toys are like a part of them, like a part of their identity.
3. Research about the appropriate toys for children of different ages
Throughout child development stages there are lots of options for you to choose from regarding what is best for a kid depending on what age they are.
From birth to 1 years old:
A baby learns about his or her surroundings by using the five senses- sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, as well as about cause and effect. The best toys for newborn babies up to age 1 may include:
- Mobiles and safety mirrors
- Stacking toys
- Simple pop-up toys
- Picture books
- Musical toys
- Squeeze toys
- Infant swings
- Teething toys
These toys can be very fun for babies as well as being very helpful to put a crying baby to sleep, such as mobiles and singing toys.
If you are looking to get creative and to get your hands dirty, here’s a great DIY video for 4 activity boards you can make for your baby:
1 to 3 years old:
A toddler moves around in the environment a lot - walking, climbing, pushing, riding. A strong interest in manipulating and problem solving with objects begins during this period and can be encouraged with:
- Push/pull toys
- Riding toys for toddlers
- Small tricycles and wagons
- Large beads
- Picture books
- Simple puzzles, shape sorters, peg boards
- Movement games
- Blocks, stacking rings
- Crayons, markers and clay
There are lots of toys you can buy for your child but what if they don’t end up playing with it? It’s really a matter of trial and error most of the time, however we have found a great video of a mum’s experience with the toys she bought for her kids so have a look and you may be able to relate to it!
3 to 5 years old:
Pre-schoolers love to be around other children and enjoy having play dates and sharing many kinds of kids’ activities, including:
- Puzzles (no more than 24 pieces)
- Dressing-up and playing around with accessories
- Large bead-threading and lace sets
- Simple board games (Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Candyland)
As a parent, if you are interested in simplicity and minimalism, this video has the perfect toy recommendations for independent play:
TOYS IN EARLY SCHOOL YEARS
In their early school years, children seek out new information, experiences and challenges through playing. A child in this age group is influenced by peers and is usually very social. They start playing with board games, coordination or memory games, building and construction sets, superhero action figures, art and crafts as well as being able to read books independently. Additionally, it has to be mentioned that many of them, particularly in the later Primary school years still enjoy the dolls. It is the age of exploring, creating, inventing and conquering. It is the age of personality formation and demonstration. Without a doubt, toys are essential for their development but apart from that, the toys giving them different experiences is extremely important.
6 to 9 years old:
- Sports Equipment
- Bicycles and helmets
- Roller skates with protective gear
- Simple models and Art and crafts
- Board Games (Trouble, Parcheesi, Checkers, brain box)
- Coordination and memory gam (Jenga, Simon, perfection, Mastermind)
- Building and construction sets
Want to create your own type of co-ordination/balancing technique game? Here is a DIY video about how to make your own maze using just cardboard and glue!
4. Read the guide before giving it to the child:
Children are so excited when they receive toys so their excitement makes them less patient- as soon as they get it, they NEED to play with it. If they can’t find out how they can play with it, they start losing their interest and might even get angry. So be prepared to explain the instructions to them beforehand.
5. Creating a game with the toys and laying out the toys for the kids:
Toys are to provide children with opportunities for playing games and having a few minutes of fun so it’s better if you set out the toys for them, if they are quite young. If they are just playing with the toy, they might get bored so turning it into a game is a form of entertainment for them so they can play for longer.
6. Consider to choose toys that encourage children to play with others as they are growing up to improve their social skills
As your child is growing up, when they reach the pre-teenager stage they become independent and efficient, yet thrive on playing with other children.
Through this age the child's cognitive, social and sexual development takes huge steps too. For example, they begin moving toward independence, developing a capability for social conscience, developing decision-making skills, becoming self-conscious and self-centred.
‘Giving your teens time to learn through play encourages creative thinking, addresses your teen’s desire for greater independence and ownership in their learning, fosters social relationships, increases physical activity, brings about increased physical activity and creative expression, and allows your teen the opportunity to demonstrate competence and improve leadership skills.’ (BenAndMe, 2018)
A child this age knows how to play fairly using advanced social skills and will be able to manage:
9 to 12 years old:
- Playing musical instruments
- Party games
- Listening to music
- Flying drones
- Skates and Rollerblades
- Card and board games
- Model kits/science kits
- Using tablets and generally a variety of electronic devices
- Singing karaoke with their friends
- Lego sets
- Watching Movies
- Art supplies
- Challenging Jigsaw puzzles (with over 50 pieces)
- Sports equipment
Here is a variety of board games that is suitable for kids over 8 and perfect for family fun!
In the end, just as a reminder, always double check all the information before buying your child a toy. Every age is different as kids learn and experience a variety of things as they get older and this is very important because if you aren’t too careful, it can create a bad experience or memory for their future. Even if your child receives a toy as a present and its not suitable for their age, just save it for when they get older- it will be a cool surprise that way! Please let us know what experiences you have had with certain toys or products and about your kids interaction with it! Thanks!